Becky Fenger Fenger PointingJANUARY 19, 2011

Governors with guts

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How does a man who broke no laws land in jail? Mistaken identity or false evidence? In this case it was a rotten judge. Thanks to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Brian Aitkin rang in the New Year as a free man after Christie commuted his sentence on Dec. 20. Love that governor (so lay off him for being in Florida when the big snowstorm hit).

On Jan. 2, 2009, this young media consultant, with no prior criminal record, decided to move from Colorado to New Jersey. In the trunk of his car, Aitkin had two unloaded and disassembled guns that he had purchased legally in the Rocky Mountain State after passing an FBI background check. Additionally, Aitkin had voluntarily contacted New Jersey State Police before his move to find out how to properly transport the firearms.
Not good enough!

Aitkin's car was stopped by police. He was convicted of weapons charges and sentenced to seven years in jail. David Codrea, a gun rights columnist for, was shocked to learn that, indeed, Mr. Aitkin had been incarcerated for the crime of "driving from one place to another in a perfectly legal manner."

People familiar with this case agree that Aitkin was a victim of bad luck. As they describe it: the bad luck to be stopped on the road by police ignorant of or indifferent to the law and the bad luck to land a judge knowledgeable about the law but unwilling to tell jurors about it. According to reports, the jury came back in from deliberation three times "practically begging the judge to tell them the law that protects an individual's right to transport firearms."

Judge James Morley earlier this year outright refused to give the jury the answers to their questions. Unfortunately, the jurors succumbed to the dishonorable actions of the "honorable" judge. God grant us fully informed juries. Please.

Actually, in light of Jared Lee Loughner's shooting spree in Tucson, Aitkin is fortunate his sentence was commuted before January 8. Some segments of our society are so intent on the demonization of all firearms now that even lawful possession by upstanding individuals is being challenged.

It is nothing short of scandalous, however, what happened at a Phoenix school last week. A teacher let loose in front of the class with an irresponsible rant that equaled the shoot-from-the-hip ramblings of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. This "teacher" went on a tear about how Jared Loughner was "an immigrant-hating tea-partier who was instructed by Jesse Kelly (her general election challenger) to shoot Congresswoman Giffords."

If the word "vitriol" weren't, in the space of a mere two weeks, already grossly overused, I would say this teacher was full of it.

And if teachers were allowed to be fired, here would be the first that I would put out to pasture. Instead, the language police will probably insist on changing the word "fired" to a less offensive term.

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Not afraid of firing anyone is the newly-minted Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico. The first thing she did upon taking office was to overturn departing Governor Bill Richardson's sneaky attempt to impose a cap-and-trade program on his hapless constituents. As reported in the Cooler Heads Digest publication (love that title), Gov. Richardson "pushed an energy rationing scheme through the Environmental Improvement Board, without approval from the State Legislature, on the same day that voters elected Martinez, who had campaigned against cap-and-trade." That's just nasty.

Next the gutsy Gov. Martinez fired the whole Environmental Improvement Board, kit and kaboodle. She then moved to block Richardson's cap-and-trade legislation.
As if this weren't enough for an opening salvo (pardon my bellicose verbiage), she then named former astronaut and climate change skeptic Harrison Schmitt to head her Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. She is truly a wise Latina!

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Quotes of Note:
"Saying 'no' is not a vice. Saying 'no' when we can't afford it is a virtue."
~ New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, defending his cost-cutting methods of dealing with the state's huge budget deficits.

"The president had a double-barreled effort to achieve, and I think he did it extremely well." ~ Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC), commenting on President Obama's speech at the Tucson memorial for the shooting victims.

"Fathom the odd hypocrisy that the government wants every citizen to prove they are insured, but people don't have to prove they are citizens."
~ Writer, actor and economist Ben Stein.